I got a word quota to hit, as do the rest of us, writers. Each of us were equipped with typing devices for inputting letters, forming structures out of words, sense out of jumbled thoughts. We also have internet connection to perform research and furnish relevance out of trash.
And who could forget — heads? Yes, the gray matter that permits us to think and to write and be both. Indeed, we have what we need to work.
But are we really working?
“Sometimes” becomes a habit
Procrastinating is a dangerous habit. It comes undetected and is powerfully wrought out of boredom, dissatisfaction, personal issues and a combination of unnamed disorders. But what’s worse is this: the same tools we use to perform our task are the same tools that could foster this nasty habit.
The typing device? Gosh! Type bullet-fast, let words roll from your fingers to the keys and you’ll sound like you’re busy. The net connection? Aww… adorable pictures of animals, impressive architecture, even the latest buzz in the celebrity news.
Minutes and hours are spent to conduct ‘research’ that have nothing to do with the topic. The cute creatures can’t be used as a metaphor to write about the recent business trend. Architecture wouldn’t make a great backdrop for that supposed article about political wars.
And you silently say to yourself: “It’s not like this all the time. Sometimes, I’m just as busy as any bee.”
It’s like magic
Reading blogs that had nothing to do with your topic could help you collect interesting insights. By the time you go back to working your topic, a new angle reveals itself. And you work it out, type a bit, and type some more.
Viola! Finally, you have a finished piece. You had made good use of the provided resources! — And the necessity to replicate this effort, to do it once again burns like an inner fire. For a second or so, you are actually “present” in the office: your body isn’t the only one rooted in the seat; so is your beautiful mind!
Hence, you fail to diagnose the previous deed as something called ‘procrastinating.’
Reading an irrelevant material had been helpful, right? So, might watching videos? Or, basking through visual entries on an online artsy platform?
Then your endless hours of feigning busyness or net surfing aren’t procrastination after all. It’s actually an essential key to finding inspiration for a topic! —A very good excuse for a writer, or any other person whose job is associated with the term ‘creativity.’
I told you so: procrastinating is a dangerous habit. A. Very. Dangerous. Habit.
Is there a cure?
There has to be a cure. You could start by, by (*mumbling) being busy. When you’re busy, you could hardly find or need time to look at adorable pet pictures or architecture. You could look at your task like it’s going to immediately earn you something — a diploma or gift certificate?
I swear, I could see smoke rising from your fingers as you tap away idle hours and make something out of a simple theme or prompt.
When you feel like something is dis-interesting, you consciously shake yourself up. Perhaps, you may do some silent pep talking that read like this:
“Come on, you don’t have to love it to do it. You just got to DO it.”
And so you go on: read a bit and begin a skeletal draft. Gradually, each heading is filled with content. You go over something that didn’t sound right. You change the arrangement of words — again and again — to create a structure that revs up the piece.
In short, you do what’s best to achieve the seemingly impossible task of completing a blank sheet of virtual document.
But these things they’ve proposed, this is not a cure.
Not a cure. Period.
Perhaps, because procrastination is not a disease: no metaphorical pill could fix it. You can’t pull out an unproductive activity all the time. This is not possible because you can’t do everything with full consciousness.
You are an unconscious being, as well (a mix of the two!). You’re every move and decision are littered with half-chances. There is no scarcity of issues over the minute-details of your mind’s design.
Try as you might, procrastination is just way too sneaky than you’d expect.
Still, doing something beats doing nothing. Apart from the cited mini-fixes, you could also work on establishing structures in your routine. For instance, a ‘time structure’ could work like this: if an hour passed and no final output is produced, abandon all non-related sites and focus on the blank sheet.
You can stare at it for minutes; eventually, the impulse to fill the sheet will overwhelm you.
Another tack you could use is arranging yourself to be seated near your boss. Okay, this sounds daunting, right? (Admit it: this is ingenious!) Sitting and working next to an authoritative figure could actually ‘push’ you to work.
You might feign at times; but knowing that this is not possible forever — especially, with the sitting arrangement — you’ll eventually built on the habit of relentless working.
Will “it” be back?
Procrastination is way sneakier than Swiper the Fox. Nothing good will come out of pretending that it won’t be back. In fact, the more certain you are that it’s gone, the sooner it’ll come back.
And when it’s back, what would you do? Welcome it with open arms. Hug it tight and close to the point of squeezing shut its lungs. Enjoy its presence to the point of exhausting all its powers. Procrastination is dangerous, but so are you.
**First published at Medium.com